Amanda Knox: Free At Last. In Pictures, Videos, Tweets

By Candace Dempsey, author of Murder in Italy, the true story of Amanda Knox. We suffered in Seattle, as we awaited the final verdict in Amanda Knox case.  Seattle is her hometown. We never dreamed that she and Raffaele Sollecito would be released by the Italian Supreme Court, after 7 long years. They faced more than 24 years in prison each, for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Drifter Rudy Guede is serving 16 years for slashing her to death. He is the lone killer.

Basta, finito, the two college students are free forever. Click on the slideshow to see the final days of the Amanda Knox case as it played out in real time. It truly is the story with 1001 twists.
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Yosemite: U.S. Climbers, World's Hardest Free Climb

By Candace Dempsey

Up or up? That's the choice tonight on Yosemite's glorious El Capitan for two U.S. free climbers (ropes, no gadgets). Will they make mountaineering history or ...? Working on a dream here.

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Mexico: Fun in the Water Four Ways

I came to San Luis Potosi in beautiful Mexico for adventure, like so many adventurers before me. Eager to acquire crazy new skills, I chose a four-day guided trip that promised a "Hidden Eden" of ferocious turquoise rivers north of Mexico City, where gringas are scarce and gray-haired women in black cotton still sell roasted corn, spiced with chili, from roadside stands.

At where "even the dog has fun", I signed on to whitewater raft, rappel into a waterfall, jump into waterfalls and scuba dive into a lake  Even though I deliberately chose an extreme adventure, I must admit that I had moments of doubt. Why can't I just choose something safe? Why do I have to try new things?

Whitewater rafting on the Tampaon River (Class 3) was an enjoyable, easy time, since I'd already survived Hell's Canyon (Class 4) and the River of No Return (Class 3) in Idaho.

Clambering 147 feet down the sides of Minas Viejas waterfall into a delightfully warm pool was a day at the beach (see photo below of Dana Johnson heading down the cliff) because I'd recently rappelled 200 feet into a New Zealand cave. Besides, I love rappelling. I feel free and light on the rope. It is magical.  

But even though I grew up in the West, practically living in water, two activities did scare me. Waterfall jumping (eek, heights) and scuba diving (holy claustrophobia). Would I flop or fly?

Well, it turns out anything is possible if you're with people who encourage you to try new things and know how to laugh. We were a merry group of many nations and languages, brought together through the magic of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and ATMEX. Adventure addicts, one and all. We got high on risk-taking, plus plentiful tequila and elaborate spreads of luscious local food at EcoResort Huasteca Secreta (see below, with the mighty El Salto del Meco waterfall just behind) and La Malanca Hotel & Spa.

Yup, I did dive into the waterfalls at San Luis Potosi. This is me taking the famous "big step" over the cliff.

I discovered that you can even make new friends while scuba diving. Here are fellow Adventure Angels Dana Johnson of Open Leaf Excursions and Jiyeon Juno Kim of the fabulous Runaway Juno blog. I enjoyed this scuba dive into Media Luna Lake State Park,  having prudently taken some last-minute lessons in Seattle. The lake water was warm and placid, which made it easier to jump into the water and even climb down a very tall tree.

Can't wait for the ATTA Summit in Chile next year.  That is a dream come true.  Thank you ATMEX2014 for the memories. Let's all go out and have adventures. It's a big world. We need to see all of it.
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Who Was the Famous Migrant Mother? (Photos)

Who was the famous "Migrant Mother," 32, whose famous photo has haunted us since the Depression years? Mary Coin, Marisa Silver's haunting novel reimagines the lives of Florence Owens Thompson and unveils the photo's secrets. "She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed," said photographer Dorthea Lange. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960)."

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